ABI research today released a report that forecasts a continued decline in handset shipments for 2009, with a best-case scenario of flat growth in 2010.
The report comes in the wake of a recent AdMob survey that showed smartphones have continued to gain significant market share worldwide over the past six months, rising from 26 percent to 33 percent of requests in February 2009.
But that doesn’t mean much for overall market growth. “I think people get confused. The smartphone isn’t pushing the volume of the overall market. It’s just that more phones within the mobile space are now fitting the definition of the smartphone,” says ABI’s practice director, Kevin Burden.
Although forecasts from other analysts and handset manufacturers have widely varied, consensus seems to be settling around a decline in sales in the 8 percent to 10 percent range.
In January, Nokia forecast a 10 percent decline in sales for 2009. That’s down five points from its December 2008 forecast of a 5 percent decline.
Given the downturn in the economy, Nokia has been quick to point out that its size and mobile-centric focus could mean opportunity to gain market share. Burden agrees. “In times like this, Nokia can certainly capitalize on the missteps of smaller companies.”
The ABI report did show at least some signs of light. “Many handset vendors are replacing component inventories after reducing them to very low levels in recent months to keep from overextending as the market dropped,” Burden states in the report.
The report suggests that the Asia-Pacific region will suffer most in 2009 due to its large volume of shipments. And if stabilization does come, it will arrive there a little later than in North America and Europe, resulting in a 2010 forecast that still shows a minimal decline in shipments, while other regions may enjoy a minimal positive growth.
Still, there’s no doubt that the year ahead will be a challenging one. “I can’t think of a time when I’ve wanted summer to be over so quickly,” says Burden, echoing the sentiments of many who just want 2009 to be over before it even gets started.